Money Diaries

A Week In Wellington, New Zealand, As An Insights Analyst On A $87,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we tackle the ever-present taboo that is money. We ask real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we track every last dollar.

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Today: an insights analyst who makes $87,452 and spends some of her money this week on tacos from a food truck.
Occupation: Insights Analyst
Industry: Tech
Age: 30
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
Salary: $87,452
Net Worth: $8,024 ($1,152 in savings, $836 in my everyday account, $88 in Sharesies, and $37,804 in KiwiSaver (New Zealand's superannuation scheme)).
Debt: $31,856 ($8,849 in student loans debt and $23,007 in surgery debt).
Paycheck Amount (Fortnightly): $2,298
Pronouns: She/Her

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $2,400. I pay $1,000 and my partner pays $1,400 as I was earning less than him in my last role. We live in an apartment building right near the fancy shopping area of the city. It's considered a really great price considering it's a corner apartment with heaps of windows, as well as a car park. T. owns property in another city, too.
Loans: $864 in surgery loan payments. I'm trying to get this paid off as quick as I can after having elective surgery three years ago to help with ovarian issues. My student loan comes out of my paycheck automatically before I see it, and is around $800 each month.
Spotify: $12
Patreon: $5 (It's for my tattooist after she moved to a new city)
Car Insurance: $40
Mobile: $40

Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?

Yes. I originally left school at 16 and worked in hospitality for a few years. I wanted a change when I was 20 and started a beauty therapy course, taking out student loans. After working in beauty therapy for a year I realised I liked helping with the bookings and the IT side far more than massaging. I went back to school to do my IT bachelor's degree because it was interesting and I wanted a career with options that paid well. I'm lucky to live in a country where student loans are controlled entirely by the government, assistance is good, and you don't have to pay them back until you earn a certain amount.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?

Not a lot. I remember being lucky to be given money on a birthday to spend, and always had secondhand clothes. Both my parents worked hard to make sure my brother and I were well looked after. After my brother left home, things were easier and they had a bit more money, but when I was growing up, it was very tight. I never missed out on things I wanted to do with school or anything like that but knew that new clothes and expensive things weren't on the table. Growing up with parents who worked lots made me realise pretty early on that I needed to work hard if I wanted to have extra money.

What was your first job and why did you get it?

My first unofficial job was filing my mom's paperwork at her office when I was 12. She worked as a travel agent for many years and I would sit in the back room sorting files alphabetically. I adored it and wanted to work in an office from then on. My first proper job was when I was 14 at the local supermarket as a checkout girl.

Did you worry about money growing up?

Sometimes. I knew it was tight and there were things I couldn't have, but always felt like there was everything I needed.

Do you worry about money now?

Yes. I never got into a habit of saving money and have lived paycheque to paycheque for a very long time. When I moved into tech I felt a lot less worried as my skills meant that my job was pretty secure. However, having such a big personal loan has hung over my head for the longest time. I recently worked out how long it'll take me to pay the rest off and feel much better about it now. I still worry and am learning better money skills from my partner. I've got a couple of friends and we chat about money and keep each other honest.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?

Around 16, when I had my first full-time job in a restaurant and moved out of home. I know that if I need help, my parents would always be there. They have also helped me out over the years with gifts such as car insurance. They like to be able to help now that they are far more financially secure than when I was growing up. 
My safety net would definitely be them and my partner, or friends would always provide a roof and food, as I would for them. I'm incredibly lucky to have a group of really awesome people around me.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.


Day 1

6:00am — I wake up with a start to my 6am alarm, which surprises me every morning. My partner, T., makes us a coffee in bed while I pretend it’s not morning yet. As he’s going away for work (for six months!) in just over a month, I’m cherishing the little things like our morning routine. I’ve recently switched jobs and now work for a very casual private IT company, which has made my wardrobe stress in the morning even worse (does anyone else have massive struggles deciding what to wear?!). I finally choose some black jeans, an oversized white shirt, and tan granny sandals. T. has taken the day off to chill out at home after a friend's 30th this weekend, so it’s just me leaving the house. 
7:00am — I have a 15-minute walk to work, and today my teammate from my last role, A., is in the same area! We meet at Starbucks for a coffee before heading into work. I pre-load a Starbucks card each pay cycle, so $8.30 comes off this. I’m a big gingerbread latte with coconut milk fan and get far too many while it’s in stores (or I get the right amount, who knows?). A. is more a friend than an ex-colleague now and we talk about her fertility struggles. I share my thoughts on where T. and I will end up later in the year with his move.
8:00am — Get to work, settle in, and start my morning of meetings. As I’m still new, I’m trying my best to provide value while also learning. The environment is super supportive and understanding, which is a massive change of pace. My last job was leading a team with a large workload and too few people to do the work. It also just stressed me out in general, so I looked at changing for a long time before it eventually happened. This workplace offers flexible working, a lot of support, and a friendly atmosphere. I do miss the friends I made at my last place, but the sheer lack of stress has made up for it! 
9:30am — 10-minute meeting break! I grab an oat latte and make some toast with the free bread that work provides. Having a coffee machine and free snacks on site is fantastic! I plan to fully embrace all perks whenever I’m in the office.
12:00pm — I’ve been assigned a social buddy, E., to help me in the first couple of months. We have a coffee and lunch once a week-ish. Today we both brought our lunch from home (pea and thyme risotto for me), so we sit in the kitchen to eat it and have a chat. E. is a bit older than me with different focuses in life, but I’m really glad to have someone to talk to! Everyone here tends to stick with their groups, and as most of my team are in different offices around the country, it can get a bit lonely. I talk to her about the chance of remote working almost full time if T. and I move to a small town with his work later in the year. There won’t be any other options for me to work there in IT, so I’d need to take my job with me. E. thinks that it would probably be okay and recommends talking with my boss sooner rather than later, just to give her a heads up. 
1:00pm — I’ve been trying to cut down on the amount of chocolate I eat daily (it’s lots!) but it’s proving pretty hard. I end up having a banana after lunch to satisfy my sweet tooth — free work snacks to the rescue! I need to do some research into unfamiliar tech so I eat it at my desk. Going from public to private industry means I need to catch up on the latest technology. I pop in an order for eggs at work ($11.38)— the minimum is 30 eggs, but I'm sure that I'll go through them quickly as they're one of my favourite things. The farm providing them is local and has free-range chooks, so I don't mind the price. $11.38
4:30pm — Annnd I’m out! I'm all done for the day and my brain has turned itself inside out trying to figure out how to solve a coding problem. Some days it’s hard being the new kid. I walk home and try to avoid the crowds walking through the city by going up all the stairs. It works, but I’m out of breath by the top. T.’s had a good day off and has pre-cooked some rice for egg fried rice tonight, so we catch up and I start dinner. I’m feeling really lazy so it’s incredibly basic. We watch an episode of Cowboy Bebop while eating dinner on our laps.
9:00pm — Oops! A few hours later and we've finished the last three episodes, helped along by a few cups of chai. It's a very cool ending and sets up a lot for next season. I’m excited to see how it goes. We have a shower and head to bed — both of us are too tired to stay up any later.
Daily Total: $11.38

Day 2

6:00am — The alarm goes off and I’m shocked. Today is normally my WFH day, but I decided to go into work as I’ve got a new process to run today and want the help of my senior in the office. It’s warm but pouring rain. After many debates with myself, I wear leggings, an oversized linen shirt, and some white leather sneakers. It's not 100% suitable for the rain but I have a massively oversized raincoat that I adore, so I throw that on and I’m good to go. Before T. leaves, I get him to pull a tarot card. He gets the Magician, which might be a sign of some certainty coming up with his work. I pulled the Ace of Cups, which is a good reminder for me to embrace opportunities and remain open. 
8:00am — I’m pretty well covered by my raincoat but quickly realise that carrying my laptop bag through the rain isn’t the best idea. I make a coffee and get into a chat with coworkers. I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve talked to them, so I get a bit shy and forget to ask for their names. Whoops. I jump onto Slack and realise that my senior manager has messaged me to let me know that he's not in today as his child is sick. He's got two young kids and it's great that he's prioritising them, especially after working in an office where that type of thing was frowned upon.
12:00pm — I have a really good chat with my boss! She's understanding of me needing to move and is quite relieved that it won't be until the end of the year. She thinks it will work out just fine. I email T. immediately after the meeting to let him know. It might involve a bit more commuting than I’d like, but I’m sure we can revisit that later down the track. I'm WFH this afternoon so I pack up my things and head home.
1:00pm — It’s one o’clock and all I’ve done is stare at my screen. I get up and make a couple of fried eggs and eat a banana. I’m hungry today! This at least gives me some fuel to continue investigating an issue — I’ve been trying to crowdsource some answers which are proving useful. It’s nice getting connections with people outside of my team, but a little uncomfortable when it’s me asking for things! I’m sure I’ll be able to help in future though. 
3:30pm — T. comes home from work and we have a chat for a while. It’s distracting me from my work but by this point, I’m not focusing a lot. We talk about our potential move and that it’s looking pretty likely. He sits down to game on his laptop for a while as I wrap up work for the day. I get a bit more done and prepare some questions for my senior tomorrow to get some help. 
4:30pm — Woohoo, freedom! I always feel a little less separated from work when working from home but the commute sure does wonders for me. I’ve decided to make soup with doughboys for dinner! In the spirit of using what’s in the house, I empty a big batch of premixed vegetarian soup base that has a tonne of lentils and grains in a pot. I add some onion, more lentils (gotta get that protein in), and flavourings. I’ve been given a box of fancy bread dough from work as a welcome to the office gift and will use this to make the doughboys. When we went back to the office, they gave everyone a mask and a box of baking mix, which was cool. 
10:30pm — I've been trying to get into the new Lost in Space TV show and am on struggle street tonight, so I figure I'll get ready for bed and read a book instead. I recently went blonde, so I spend some time putting blonde shampoo on my dry hair to hopefully get some of the more brassy looking bits out. By the time I've finished, there's purple everywhere and I need to clean the shower. I'm pretty sure I've used too much as I can see my hair looking too silver in places. I tie it up and admit that I'll try again another night.
Daily Total: $0

Day 3

6:00am — Alarm. Snooze. Alarm. It’s getting harder to get out of bed, but the lure of coffee is pretty strong. T. is working from home today, so we get to hang out longer this morning. We talk about the possibility of buying a house together and how to make it work. He owns a house already in a different city. He floats leaning on it so we can have smaller mortgage repayments. I don’t have enough money to buy one on my own, and it’s nice that he’s open to buying one together. 
7:30am — After continuing to fluff around for a bit, I get dressed in dungarees, a black tee, white sneakers, and a white sweater. T. doesn’t care what I wear (nor should he) but I have fun getting him to choose between options for me so I don’t need to decide. It’s like having a terrible personal shopper (I love him, but fashion is not his thing). We say goodbye and he promises to check the mailbox several times. We had a package stolen recently and I’m worried it’ll happen again. It was a ring made out of 10,000-year-old native wood, sent to us via my parents who added extra presents to it. Sadly, it never made its way to us, and we've had zero luck tracking it down.
8:00am — At work. It wasn’t raining on the way in which has made my day. I make a chai in the kitchen and bring it back to my desk, immediately spilling some. Oops! It’s just me in my area though, so I can clean it up without anyone noticing. My senior hasn’t turned up yet, so I’m wondering if he is still at home with his kids. 
1:00pm — After all the meetings this morning and another piece of data not doing what I expect it to, I head out to the supermarket. I’m making a quiche tonight and need to buy tempeh to put in it. It’s pretty busy at the shops and I’m hungry, which isn’t a good combo, but manage to walk out with just tempeh ($6.37) and some mints ($1.45). This supermarket also sells face-sized meringues with freeze-dried berries in them that I love, and I notice they’re doing in-store iced coffees as well. Luckily, I’m feeling cheap before payday which helps me avoid temptation. $7.82
3:30pm — It’s time to pick up my eggs! They’re a big reason I’m making quiche tonight and no doubt the rest of our meals this week will be egg heavy. I head to the office kitchen on another floor but can’t find them anywhere. I stand awkwardly looking around for a bit before heading back to my desk and messaging the person who brings them in. Turns out they’re hiding behind some storage containers, so I don’t feel quite so silly. I message T. to see if he’s keen to come down and help me bring everything home. A laptop, 30 loose eggs on a tray, and a heavy bag seem like a bad idea. Luckily, he agrees. 
6:00pm — My meeting runs over but luckily I manage to get out before 5pm. After a very uneventful walk home (not spilling the eggs!), I get changed and start dinner. I'm a big fan of early dinners, otherwise, I'll be snacking until dinner time. I make caramelised onions, cook the tempeh, and mix up the eggs and other liquids. Putting all that in the oven with veggies, I leave the dishes to T. and play on my phone. I feel like I just pick it up and put it down for no reason during the day.
8:00pm — Some weeks it feels like I’m out every night, and others it seems like I stay at home constantly. I think this week is definitely a stay at home week! I have an urge to reread a series (Corinna Chapman Mysteries) that I know is on my Kindle. I have a mini panic when the charging cable isn’t working because it might be my Kindle that's the problem. But I soon realise it's the cable, so I happily get charging with a different one. I'm feeling lazy (this is becoming a bit of a theme!), so the both of us head to bed to read and chill out. We end up staying up a bit later than normal hanging out and chatting about future plans and then crash out. 
Daily Total: $7.82

Day 4

6:00am — Alarm. Shocked. Up, showered, dressed, and ready with plenty of time to spare for a coffee and a hangout. I’m working from home today and pretty excited about it. I’m expecting the package to arrive, so I want to be home to check the mailbox so I can get to it first. I’m meeting a friend for lunch today, so I actually put in a bit of effort, wearing a dress and brushing my hair. I figure it's better to start early and finish early, so I pour myself a coffee and sit down at my desk. Since working from home, I've transformed my painting desk into my work desk. It makes me a little sad to use it for work and not art, but I don't really have any other options.
10:00am — I’m starving. I boil a couple of eggs for breakfast and then head to the supermarket. Because we live so centrally, it’s less than a five-minute walk. It doesn’t have a huge selection, but the prices are the same as they are at the bigger shops, which is cool. I pick up wine, lemons, tahini, a bag of carrots, and flavoured soda water. $27.53
12:30pm — Holy shoot, the morning went by quickly. We ended up having a lot of spotlight on an incident I was responding to so it was all hands on deck. I spend some time putting together a really rough document that covers what was investigated and our current cause. My boss shares it prematurely and I rush to continue working on it so that the stakeholders don’t see my spelling mistakes! I end up being a little late to meet my friend C. down the road at a dumpling place. We haven’t caught up since T. and I helped them move house, so it’s nice to spend time together. C. pays as he says I bought him lunch last year (???).
1:00pm — It’s such a nice day, so C. and I head down to a green space in the city to have our dumplings. I get Xia Long Bao, and he gets pan-fried veggie ones. They’re pretty great. We discuss what’s been happening in the last couple of months and agree that he should come over for a beer after work today so that T. can catch up as well. I mention that it feels like a weird year and C. agrees. I think a lot of people are feeling that way at the moment. It’s a nice reminder to know that I’m not alone in feeling unsettled and uncomfortable about what the future will bring. 
3:30pm — I’m about done for the day. I’ve been trying to get some code to work and eventually do it the easy way instead of the correct way, but that's tomorrow me's problem. I know T. will be home soon and I want to make some hummus before C. comes over, so I sign off a little early, planning to start a bit earlier tomorrow morning.
6:30pm — I use a friend's recipe and make some hummus. It's basic, but always comes out pretty tasty. T. chops up carrots and then we're all sorted. C. arrives and has a couple of drinks with us. It's so good to catch up and we just sit around chatting and hanging out for ages. Eventually, C. leaves and I decide on leftovers for tea — leftover soup for T. and quiche for me. I've got a big craving for hotpot but have zero ingredients or effort required to do so. 
8:00pm — So tired. I've had a couple of glasses of wine and now I'm knackered. At this point, I don't want to break my streak of early nights so I figure I'll head to bed early.
Daily Total: $27.53

Day 5

5:00am — It was super warm overnight. Even with the doors and windows open, it's been hard to sleep. I wake up well before my alarm which isn’t the best, but also isn’t too bad. I end up waking T. up as well and he goes to make coffee so we can have it in bed and hang out. Despite the heat, it’s a really cosy morning hanging out together and cuddling.
7:00am — Another wardrobe issue. What to wear on casual Friday when every day is also casual? Turns out that it’s leggings, an oversized white shirt, and some white espadrilles. You would not believe how long it took to get dressed. I send an apology text to T. as I didn’t do the dishes (Oops — I did say I would!) but he doesn’t mind and will do them when he gets home. I head out of the apartment and there's someone else in the lift, I’m used to seeing people limits for lifts (for social distancing), so always get a bit weird when there's someone else in one and ask if they mind me also getting in. I try to be cool about it, but oh boy, I am not. 
12:00pm — And all of a sudden it’s lunchtime. I've spent this morning working on different bits and pieces and was hoping to get one report finished but it's looking like it'll be a Monday job. I have a virtual coffee catch up with a colleague in a different city and we chat about what's going on in our lives. I reheat my quiche (the last of it, thank goodness) and sit at one of the window seats and read the news. I try not to look at it normally, but I'm planning on travelling soon so I want to know what the guidelines will be.
4:00pm — I get carried away with my work and then realise that T. has called me, emailed me, and messaged. Turns out he just wanted to let me know he is working late and needs me to pick him up if we're going to the supermarket. We try to go only once a week and normally head to Pak'n'Save to get the lowest prices. We're still going because we have zero food in the fridge and need some veggies for the week. I leave work just after 4pm and get to the apartment, pack clothes for T. (he works in a uniform so likes to get changed if we're doing anything after work), grab grocery bags and head off. 
6:00pm — An awful amount of traffic means that it takes me double the time to get to T. I finally reach him and let him know that I'm feeling a bit grumpy. I ask him about his day so I can have a minute to readjust. We pop in and get petrol ($27.28), before heading to the supermarket. I pick up some staples for the week — fresh veggies, fruit, margarine, tofu, fish, tea, coffee, toothpaste, and a bunch of pantry stuff. We split groceries so the total is $79.84, my share is $39.92. It takes us about 20 minutes to drive home and we eat apricots on the way. They're delicious. $67.20
8:00pm — I make a version of salt and pepper tofu with broccoli and rice for dinner. T. mentions he's really liking tofu (he didn't like it much when we first got together) which is good to hear. I text my friend, K., to let her know that T. and I will meet her for morning tea tomorrow. She mentions that she's heading to the movies tonight, which makes me remember that T. and I have a movie voucher. I book us in for tomorrow night at a cute little cinema just out of town. It'll be a late night, but hopefully a good one! 
10:00pm — I've been reading for a while and should probably head to bed. I love Friday nights for relaxing and unwinding. Get to bed and snuggle in, but keep reading for another couple of hours while T. makes snuffling noises in his sleep. Adorable.
Daily Total: $67.20

Day 6

7:00am — Woohoo, sleep in! It's a little chillier today so I have a coffee and snuggles in bed with T. We eventually get up and shower and sort ourselves out for the morning. I put on my dungarees, white sneakers, and a green tee and sweater. Very casual vibes today.
9:30am — I have some free time so I go to a store that sells resin kits. I want to make a ring for T. that has a section with blue-ocean style resin in it. I’ve never worked with it before so I’m excited to try it. As I’m walking down, I slip over at a traffic light. The embarrassment is far worse than the pain. I pick myself off and keep going, very much feeling my red cheeks more than my sore palm. 
11:00am — I bring the resin home and put it in the middle of the lounge — prime position for when I get back. T. and I walk down to meet K. at the doughnut shop. When we get there it’s pretty full and the only seats are outside in the rain. We debate going somewhere else and settle on somewhere we both like and that isn’t too busy. T. heads home after a coffee while K. and I go to the sustainability market that’s on one of the laneways. It’s super tiny and quite sales-aggressive, but there are cool things to buy. I buy K. and I tacos from a truck ($19). I get potato and tofu and she gets the same without the tofu. They’re delicious but spicy. $19
1:00pm — K. and I head down to a fair that's in town and wander for a bit. There are many, many cute dogs and some really cool stalls. Afterwards, we ride flamingo scooters along the waterfront. I’ve never been on one before and it’s hilarious. We park the scooters ($3.64) and go into a bar that’s known for cocktails. I get a strawberry margarita and K. gets a blood orange one (she pays). $3.64
3:00pm — On the next stop of our adventure, we head to a store that sells silk face masks (oily skin and masks don’t work well together). They only have one left, so I buy it immediately ($24.55). We walk into a Christmas pop-up market and find doughnuts! I buy one each for K. and I. I get pistachio and cherry and she gets caramelised rum ($11.37). I find some presents for my bestie ($29.55) and a fruit tea for myself that smells amazing ($15.00). $80.47
5:00pm — I get home and immediately try my hand at adding resin into a bit of wood that I’ll make into a ring. I’ve got a Dremel tool, so I drill some space out of the wood and mix up the resin. It’s so sticky! I also discover that a little dye goes a long way, oops! I think it’ll still look cool, although not as resin-centric as I would have liked. It’s fun anyway and I leave it to set. 
7:00pm — T. and I head out to the supermarket before the movie to buy some snacks, settling on peanuts and cashews. It’s getting really busy and a little overwhelming, so T. goes to hang out in the car while I buy the nuts ($4.55). We get to the theatre early, scan in and go for walk around before coming back and having a drink ($9.09). We fantasise about eating actual movie snacks so T. buys me some popcorn. $13.64
11:30pm — The movie is great but I find it really loud — I must be old! We drive back into town and stop at an all-night cafe that has a seat in the window. I get a tea and T. has a chai (T. pays). We talk about moving towns and how we hope that it'll work out. We spend some time people watching and just hanging out before heading home to bed. 
Daily Total: $116.75

Day 7

8:00am — Sleep in! I’m so tired after last night that I can barely open my eyes. One late night and I’m wrecked! I turn the Dremel tool on to get started on my resin and then realise it’s 8:30am on a Sunday and stop. That was rude. We have neighbours (somewhere, we never see them!) and I’m pretty sure they’d hate the drill noise. Instead, T. and I clean the house. After the house is clean, it’s 10 am so I can sit down and try my drill again.
12:00pm — T. suggests that we head to a hardware store to get a hobby vice along with some more sanding and cutting tools. We get there and he lines up to grab us coffees while I go find the parts I need. They have vices ($22.73) but none of the other bits. Darn. I ask a guy who looks like he’s been working there for 70 years and he takes me down all the wrong aisles.  It’s the best and we have a good chat about how confusing stores are when tiny parts of the layout change. I don’t find the other things I need, but it's a fun ten minutes. I head back to T. and let him know I heard a dog, which is big news for two people who can’t wait to get pets. He buys the coffees, and I grab a mint plant for the balcony ($4.55) and a gift card for our friend's birthday present ($25 for my half). $52.28
2:00pm — On the drive back, we stop in town for sushi. I find a car park nearby and pay for parking ($2.73) and we head into a sushi train. Ideal. Collectively we have edamame, salmon, chicken, and egg. It’s super tasty but I don’t eat that much of it, so I just send T. $5 and he pays the bill. $7.73
4:00pm — We get home and a friend comes by for a visit. We spend a couple of hours chatting and she gives me some resin advice which is much appreciated. The other main topic of conversation is where we would like to go next on an overseas trip. After so long of being at home, it's almost anywhere at this point!
6:00pm — I spend my Sunday afternoon lazily, writing my Money Diary and reading a book. I cook dinner (roast veggies, beans, and lettuce). Hopefully, this will last for the next day so that we can have leftovers for lunch. T. games on his computer and I whip up the rest of dinner, transforming it into burger bowls with lentils, cannellini beans, onions, and lettuce. 
9:30pm — It’s meant to be extreme rain and wind tonight and tomorrow so we’ve spent the last couple of hours on the couch watching the clouds roll in. We move the furniture and electronics away from the windows just in case. Then I head to bed where it's lights out almost straight away. I can hear the wind and rain while I drift off to sleep.
Daily Total: $60.01
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